Gates, Mastromatteo headline 2022-23 OUA honourees at year-end banquet
Mono, Ont. – It was another season to remember in 2022-23 for Ontario University Athletics (OUA), and while there were standout performances from many individuals and groups on the field, on the sidelines, and behind the scenes, it was a McMaster basketball player and Toronto swimmer who collected athlete of the year awards to highlight the 2023 OUA Honour Awards on Wednesday night.
Athlete of the Year – Sarah Gates, McMaster Marauders
Sarah Gates was nothing short of unstoppable this past season for the McMaster women’s basketball team. In her final campaign for the maroon machine, Gates was an offensive force all season long en route to being named both the OUA most valuable player and the Nan Copp Trophy recipient as the U SPORTS player of the year.
The Newmarket, Ont. product not only led her team in scoring with a blistering 27.3 points per game, but she led the conference and nation offensively as well, pacing all players – women or men – with her impressive point production. Gates also ranked first in the country in both field goals and made three-pointers, while also becoming the program’s leading scorer, netting her 1,857th career point this season for the Hamilton squad. On the defensive side of the ball, the human behaviour major secured 129 defensive rebounds, ranking her sixth in the conference, and collected 30 steals to place herself in second in that regard among the McMaster history books.
Off the court, Gates was also a significant presence in the McMaster community, serving as Char of the Women’s Athletic Leadership Council, a member of the Varsity Leadership Council, and spearheaded multiple charitable initiatives, including the annual Think Pink campaign.
Athletes of the Year – Gabe Mastromatteo, Toronto Varsity Blues
Gabe Mastromatteo made a splash with every race he swam for the Varsity Blues this past season, earning an impressive collection of hardware along the way for the Toronto men’s swimming team.
He began with a dominant showing at the 2023 OUA Swimming Championships that saw him reel in six medals across the three days of competition. His four golden outings therein came via the 100m breaststroke, 200m freestyle relay, 400m medley relay, and the 50m breaststroke. His performance in the latter was good enough to set a new conference record, and after adding on a silver (200m breaststroke) and bronze (50m butterfly), Mastromatteo was named OUA swimmer of the year and a conference all-star.
The commerce major from Kenora, Ont. would then proceed to the national stage, and while the setting was different, the success was similar. The first-team all-Canadian captured a pair of U SPORTS records at the championship event, earning top spot and pace-breaking performances in the 50m and 100m breaststroke, respectively. He would add silver medals in the 200m breaststroke and 400m medley relay.
The 2020 Olympian was an integral part of the Blues capturing their 19th consecutive OUA banner and a fourth-place finish at the U SPORTS Championships, and his 2022-23 season will undoubtedly go down as one of the most memorable for the decorated program thus far.
Team of the Year – Carleton Women’s Basketball
Presented to the groups who have demonstrated outstanding performances, compelling stories, and overall success this season, the Carleton Ravens women’s basketball team checked each of those boxes en route to their hardware-filled campaign on the court.
In just the second season under head coach Dani Sinclair, the young and self-described ‘scrappy’ Ravens squad established themselves after a few early bumps in the road. They played their way to 12 consecutive regular season wins, including a series of commanding defensive performances that earned them wins against two nationally ranked opponents.
Finishing second in the tough OUA East Division with a 19-3 regular season record, they entered the playoffs with a bye before avenging their 2022 semifinal loss to TMU and then eliminating the Sarah Gates-led McMaster squad to punch their ticket to the Critelli Cup final. Then, anchored by a 23-point third quarter against the host Queen’s Gaels, the determined bunch brought home the Critelli Cup Championship banner for a second time overall.
Their high-pressure defence then pushed them through the first two rounds at the U SPORTS Championship before they met up with a familiar foe in their final game of the season. Despite the challenge, the conspiracy of Ravens came away with their third win of the year over the Tricolour to take home their second Bronze Baby in program history.
On top of their team success, there was no shortage of individual accolades for Carleton along the way either. Newcomer Jacqueline Urban was named both the OUA and U SPORTS rookie of the year, Dorcas Buisa was tabbed as an OUA third team all-star and named a U SPORTS tournament all-star, and Kali Pocrnic was named an OUA first team all-star, second team all-Canadian, and U SPORTS Championship MVP.
Team of the Year – McMaster Men’s Cross Country
The collection of runners that made up the McMaster men’s cross country team set an incredible standard of success throughout this year’s races, pacing the pack every time they stepped onto a course.
Included in those triumphs was a podium-sweeping performance at the OUA Cross Country Championships. Five athletes scored amongst the top eight finishers in a field of 102 runners, and collectively, the group’s score of 31 was just five points shy of a clean sweep. The feat was nothing new for the Hamilton squad, who also saw an undefeated stretch heading into the conference finale.
McMaster continued to make their mark on the national stage, with five runners earning top-20 spots at the U SPORTS Championships. The team was led by individual champion Max Turek, who also came first among his conference peers the week prior, while also crossing the line in third, fifth, fourteenth, and sixteenth positions, respectively, to capture their first national title in 59 years.
The top seven runners for the Marauders all graduate following this season, and despite not being running stars in high school, each of them found their stride at McMaster under the guidance of head coach Paula Schnurr and capped off their respective varsity tenures in picture-perfect fashion.
Coaches of the Year – Paula Schnurr, McMaster Marauders
From the start of the season through to the national championship, Paula Schnurr led her team to a top ranking and an undefeated campaign.
Schnurr, a decorated varsity athlete herself at McMaster who won 28 OWIAA medals and set multiple CIAU records, has seen tremendous success coaching her alma mater since returning to the sidelines in 2010, but the team she guided in 2022-23 took it to yet another level en route to their OUA title and first national title in nearly 60 years.
To go along with this impressive season’s accolades, the Kirkland Lake, Ont. local was also the first woman to win the coach of the year for men’s cross country in OUA history following the 2018-19 season. Schnurr followed it up by capturing those honours once again this year and added to them the U SPORTS men’s cross country coach of the year nod in what was a truly masterful season for the McMaster coach.
Coach of the Year – Marty Calder, Brock Badgers
Marty Calder is no stranger to championships or accolades as coach of the Brock Badgers wrestling team.
The long-time coach from St. Catharines, Ont. helped lead his team to their seventh consecutive OUA title this season, finishing 11 points ahead of the second-place finishers. Calder’s Badgers then went on to claim an eighth consecutive national title on the heels of a 14-point cushion therein.
Under Calder’s guidance, the Badgers captured four provincial gold medals and seven individual medals total. They had four first-time all-stars, two second team all-stars, and he earned himself men’s team coach of the year honours.
Now in his fifteenth season as head coach of Brock and 29th season overall, the former Olympian also serves as a coach with the men’s Canadian national program.
J.P. Loosemore Award – Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, Wilfrid Laurier University
Former Chair of the OUA Board of Directors, Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, has been named the recipient of the 2022-23 J.P. Loosemore Award.
Awarded to an individual who exemplifies the best in university sport in terms of ethics, integrity, and honesty, Dr. MacLatchy espoused each of these traits and more while playing a leading role in navigating the OUA through one of its most challenging stretches during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. MacLatchy was the first woman to serve as Chair of the Board, and during her time in the role, saw the organization through the new governance model, implemented the Black or Indigenous Student-Athlete Heritage Bursary, and helped oversee the OUA Anti-Racism Project.
The President & Vice-Chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University was also a champion of the elevation of women in sport – building leadership opportunities, coaching supports, and advocating for financial equity.
John McManus Award – John De Souza, Toronto Varsity Blues
The John McManus Award is presented to a retired OUA coach that exemplifies the highest ideals and qualities of sportsmanship and service, while engaged in coaching in university sport, and this year’s recipient is John De Souza.
Involved with the Toronto Varsity Blues field hockey program for 26 years, De Souza officially took over as head coach in 2007 after a 16-year stint as an assistant. In that year, he led the team to their first national title in over a decade. During his run, he and the team captured seven OUA championships and a pair of U SPORTS titles, while De Souza himself earned coach of the year honours at the conference and national levels in both 2011 and 2014.
While coaching at the University of Toronto, De Souza was also an assistant coach on the 2007 gold medal winning Pan-American Games men’s field hockey team that also represented Canada at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The decorated coach has also served as a board member for both Field Hockey Ontario and Field Hockey Canada, giving back to the game whenever he can.
Media Member of Distinction – Ben Steiner, 49 Sports
Presented to a member of the news media who has made a major contribution to the development and growth of Ontario University Athletics, the 2022-23 Media Member of Distinction is Ben Steiner.
Steiner, who also contributes to CBC and the Daily Hive, among other platforms, became a fixture in the university sport community during his time as a student at Toronto Metropolitan University, consistently demonstrating his expertise and passion for post-secondary athletics through his platform, 49 Sports.
Created in 2019, 49 Sports has shown unwavering support for both the OUA and university sport across the country, establishing itself as a premier media outlet with an exceptional ability to report on the stories that matter most to his audience, from providing insightful analysis of games to documenting a student-athlete’s struggle with mental health. His work is an excellent example of the crucial role that sport journalists play in bringing university athletes to the forefront of the Canadian media landscape.
Under Steiner’s guidance and leadership, 49 Sports has grown to 15 contributors who cover a wide range of sports and events from pre-season games to national championships.
Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Award of Excellence – Jada Roach, Toronto Varsity Blues
A new award this season, the Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Award of Excellence is presented to an individual within the OUA as a mark of distinction for their work in equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives.
Jada Roach has made her mark in more ways than one as a track and field student-athlete with the Toronto Varsity Blues. The team captain was named the 2022-23 recipient of UofT’s Clara Benson Honour Award, which is given to an undergraduate women’s student-athlete who has contributed most to university athletics from the standpoint of academics, athletics, leadership, and community service.
Serving as a member of the Varsity Board’s athlete engagement subcommittee as well as the head of communications for the BIPOC Varsity Association, Roach helped lead a subcommittee of volunteers to develop multiple initiatives that improve and promote diversity and inclusion with Varsity Blues athletics.
In addition, the Saskatoon, Sask. local served as the director of diversity and inclusion for UofT Women in Sport, where she recommended changes to improve those areas in club membership and executive decisions. Her focus lies in increasing membership and creating initiatives centered around BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ inclusion.
As a member of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) Equity Committee, the third-year kinesiology major has helped plan and has led various events, including the KPE Diversity and Equity in Motion Conference and the KPE Black History Month film showing. Along with her role on the Equity Committee, she is a student panelist with the Summer Mentorship Program (KPE Day) and U of T’s Black and Indigenous Student Hangout.
OUA Woman of Distinction – Beth Ali, Toronto Varsity Blues
In recognition of outstanding leadership and celebrating the exceptional contributions of the many prominent women across the OUA, Toronto’s Beth Ali is the recipient of the 2022-23 OUA Woman of Distinction Award.
Being at the helm as Executive Director of Athletics & Physical Activity for the Blues athletic department for the past 13 seasons, Ali has tirelessly contributed to the OUA community in many ways and has continuously pushed and fought for equal focus and athletic support for her student-athletes.
On the field of play, the Varsity Blues have captured numerous conference titles and individual awards, notably earning an impressive seven provincial championships and one national title this season. Under her guidance, the program has also opened two new state-of-the-art facilities that have hosted provincial and national championships, as well as established blossoming partnerships with NBA Canada, Basketball Canada, BioSteel, and OVO Bounce.
Through both her personal and professional experience, Ali is a dedicated supporter of OUA sport development and the benefits of sport in the development of the whole person, especially the positive impact it has on a student-athlete’s university experience.
The complete list of 2022-23 OUA Honour Awards recipients is as follows:
Athletes of the Year – Sarah Gates, McMaster; Gabe Mastromatteo, Toronto
Teams of the Year – Carleton Women’s Basketball; McMaster Men’s Cross Country
Coaches of the Year – Paula Schnurr, McMaster; Marty Calder, Brock
J.P. Loosemore Award – Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, Wilfrid Laurier
John McManus Award – John De Souza, Toronto
Media Member of Distinction – Ben Steiner, 49 Sports
Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Award of Excellence – Jada Roach, Toronto
OUA Woman of Distinction – Beth Ali, Toronto